COMMON MYTHS


 

ADDICTION

Myth:  The best cure for addiction is 30 days in rehab.

Addiction is a chronic brain disease.  Like diabetes or heart disease, it must be managed and monitored over a lifetime.  We would never consider sending someone home from the hospital after having a heart attack without follow up care, yet, for those people lucky enough to make it into treatment, we often do just that.  

Myth:  Addicts use the idea that they have a “disease” to avoid taking responsibility for their behavior.

Addiction involves having serious distortions in reality.  It is a disease of forgetting. The core symptom in all addiction is the continued use despite negative consequences.  It is baffling to watch someone bang their head against the same wall over and over again.   To be in recovery, one must first accept the fact that their thinking is unsound and at times deluded.  Secondly, they must take responsibility for their actions and be accountable to those they have harmed. 

Myth:  Addiction is caused by alcohol, drugs, sex, and slot machines

Most people are able to use these substances/behaviors without becoming addicted.  Historically, this is why addiction has been seen as a moral weakness or character flaw.  Now, we are able to see the bigger picture.  Addiction is not solely about compulsive use; it is about the dysfunctional relationship someone has with the object of addiction. This relationship is informed by a complex system of genetic, neurobiological, psychological, environmental and social factors. 

Myth:  People with sex addiction aren't sick, they  just really like having sex.

Sex addiction is not about sex, nor is it about having a high sex drive.  Many people enjoy frequent and diverse sexual experiences, but do not struggle with addiction.  In fact, as the disorder progresses, people generally stop feeling much enjoyment or pleasure from sex.  Instead, they engage sexually in order to avoid negative emotions, particularly, shame.   

Myth:  In order to be sexually sober, I'll never be able to masturbate or have sex again.

Although many people choose to abstain from sex or masturbation early in recovery, the goal of treatment is to be able to have a healthy relationship with sexuality that includes many forms of sexual expression.  

Myth:  Partners of sex addicts are codependent and need to take responsibility for enabling the addict.  

Most partners of sex addicts have no idea they are being deceived.  When the betrayal comes to light, they are usually disoriented, shocked, and traumatized.  Unlike alcoholism or gambling where the addictive behavior is more apparent, sex addiction is generally embedded in a web of secrets and lies.  Partners must be provided with a tremendous amount of support to address the effects of profound trauma.  

Myth:  Only men have sexual addiction.

Sexual addiction is an intimacy disorder that can equally affect men and women; however, it often manifests differently in each.   While men may be more prone to act out physically (e.g., excessive masturbation, massage parlors, etc.), women are often addicted to some combination of sex, relationships and love.